Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Raj Mandir

I felt I couldn't spend five weeks in India without experiencing Bollywood in true Indian style. So I went to see the new movie Rascal in the Raj Mandir theatre in Jaipur, along with 1100 excited Indians filling every seat in the enormous theatre. It has a very impressive sign on the front and a grand foyer.

We had only scheduled about an hour for me, expecting that I would not endure more than that of a film in Hindi. In the event, I would have loved to stay for the entire three hour run time.

The film was easy to follow even when you couldn't understand the words. A thief and his girlfriend have come into a briefcase of money. The man goes to a sports bar to watch a soccer match, and ill-advisedly tells someone about his money. This 'friend' is a thief and makes off with the briefcase. Despite the first thief's heroics, he loses the money and is roundly berated by his mother; the macho guy is reduced to slumped-shoulder humility before this raging harridan.

Alas, the second thief spends the money on a Rolex, and a hedonistic holiday in Bangkok, only to be relieved of his watch, money, and reservations by yet another thief, the leader of The Art of Giving charity. I think you get the picture, an easy and hilarious plot to follow. Only I didn't get to see the end, having left just before the intermission.

There was a big Bollywood dance number with scantily clad beautiful woman dancing to a frantic beat and fawning over thief number three quite lasciviously. The jokes were broad and somewhat slapstick. At times, bubbles would apear as overlays over the characters' heads with text in them, whose purpose I could not discern. The production was extravagant and as far from subtle as one could get.

The exuberant audience was totally into it. As the stars of the film appeared they cheered and whistled, and laughed heartily at all the funny parts. It was such a thrill to be part of this crowd.

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